PRESIDENT of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) Ephraim Serrette described the cancellation of the 2020 Carifta Games in Bermuda because of covid19 as “unfortunate,” but said there will be other avenues for the young athletes to show their talent.
The North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) executive met online last Thursday and made the decision.
The news was confirmed in a press release sent by the president of NACAC Mike Sands on Tuesday.
Serrette said he was expecting the decision to cancel the games.
“It was inevitable, they had to do that. The world still does not have an idea of when this pandemic will be over and it will be unfair to athletes who are just doing fitness (training at) home. You need to be competing at a particular level in order to go at that level of competition,” Serrette said.
The NAAA president said it is sad that a number of athletes would have been anticipating their final Carifta Games which caters for Under-20 and Under-17 athletes, but encouraged them to make use of other opportunities.
“It is unfortunate that they would not get to face the (university) scouts who normally go to Carifta looking for athletes from the Caribbean. President after president of the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) continue to say it is the best junior championship in the world.”
Serrette said the Carifta athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the NACAC Under-23 and Under-18 meet in 2021. “They will have an opportunity at the NACAC Under-23 because that is the transition meet…the NACAC Under-18, the Under-23. That is the only alternative, but there were athletes who would have been poised, (athletes in) their final year in the (Under-20) age group, to do well.”
The NACAC release highlighted several factors that led to the cancellation including, “The covid19 pandemic and its overall impact on the host country as well as all members of the Carifta family; The impact on Government and private sector plans and budgets for 2020 and perhaps beyond; Uncertainty in respect of the re-convening of international travel; Closure of schools and sports facilities thereby impacting athletes’ ability to train and adequately prepare for a delayed edition of the Carifta Games in 2020; Delayed examinations for students at the pre-college stage of their careers and World Athletics has already announced the postponement and/or cancellation of several of its own competitions for 2020, including the World Junior (U-20) Championships.”
In the release, Sands said Bermuda will still get the opportunity to host the 49th edition of the junior track and field meet in 2021 and Guyana will be the host country for the 50th edition.
“The executive thought that the aforementioned decision would still mean that Bermuda would host the 49th edition of our Carifta Games, leaving the door open for Guyana to continue planning to host the 50th-anniversary edition but in 2022. Discussions have begun with all stakeholders in Guyana, craving their understanding and support, given that Bermuda did nothing to lose the annual event and is therefore deserving of being given the opportunity to make good on its commitment, albeit, one year later.”
The organisers believe the decision made is in the best interest of the athletes and all those involved.
“The NACAC executive believes that our decision is in the best collective interest of our Carifta family and allows us all an opportunity to support both Bermuda and Guyana in the face of these most trying times. We have an excellent opportunity to work more deliberately together, to show to the world that our annual Carifta Games are indeed, the very best junior track and field competition, globally.”
Serrette was satisfied with the decision to give Bermuda the games in 2021 as the country would have done preparations already.
“They would have invested a lot of money. The Government put out money, hotels (did preparations), sponsors (were on board)…it was the best thing to do.”
The decision by NACAC follows the decision by the International Olympic Committee to keep the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo after the virus postponed the originally scheduled 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.